Catch: During batting practice shag all balls in your position!
The READY POSITION is one of narrow stance with the weight on the balls of feet and the center of gravity relatively high so that the outfielder can move quickly in any direction. He must be ready to move rather instantaneously in an unknown direction. You should walk into the ready position.
PRE-PLAY MENTAL PREPARATIONS:
- Determine how the ball bounces off the wall.
- Determine how the ball meets the corner of the fence.
- Say to yourself “EVERY BALL HIT IS GOING TO BE HIT TO ME.” Prepare yourself mentally before every pitch. That way you will never be caught on the short end.
- Be alert to each special situation. Always expect the worst so you will be ready. Know what you are doing with the ball on every pitch.
a. Know when the bunt is in order.
b. Know when the tying or winning run is at bat or on base.
c. Know who has exceptional speed.
d. Look for changes in sun and wind.
- Study the hitters so you will know who pulls and who hits with power and then play accordingly.
FROM THIS POSITION:
- Read every pitch inside and outside
- Read the bat angle. The hitter will show you where the ball is going.
- Sound will tell you how far the ball is going.
FIELDING FLY BALLS:
- The first response is to jerk the head back using the inner ear.
- Use the drop step for fly balls over your head then cross step. Drop directly towards the straight-line route to the baseball.
- Always run full speed after fly balls. Get under them and wait to catch it.
- Never glide to the ball, or get in the habit of timing your catch.
- Always stand deeper from where you think the ball will land so you are able to turn through the ball when you make the catch. If possible catch the ball going toward the infield.
- Time the catch and go into a throwing motion. Set up 6-10 feet behind the fly ball when possible.
- Don’t get under the ball. Keep the ball to the side angle.
- Lock the ball into the glove.
- On diving catches use the shoulder roll, finish and get the glove up.
- On sliding catches use a pop-up slide technique with your glove to the side.
- Remember the ball will always curve toward the foul line.
- Most outfielders use a very large glove.
- Catch the ball on the throwing side above the shoulder with two hands as the rear foot hits the ground.
FIELDING GROUND BALLS: The key is to break hard on every play. Charge all ground balls, even though it is directed at an infielder and appears to be a sure out. Get in the habit of backing your infielders.
NO PLAY TECHNIQUE: Block ground balls on your right (left) knee.
INFIELD TECHNIQUE: Always field the ball in front of you. Right-handers practice fielding ground balls on the left foot. Charge at full speed until you are ready to make the catch, then CROW HOP to get under control. After you have caught the ball off your lead foot, throw by planting your back foot. Stare down low line drives and ground balls.
- Always grip across all four seams with your fingers apart.
- Always throw overhand with full arm extension.
- Right-handers TUCK your glove against your chest when throwing to prevent flying open.
- Over-emphasize the follow through when warming up and during infield practice. You’ll find this will strengthen your arm as well as make it accurate.
- Always hit your cut-off man to prevent further advancement.
- Don’t worry about where the runners are. Just hit the cut-off man.
- Never THROW THROUGH (shortstop) to your infielders.
- CROW HOP to target to create momentum and power.
- After the catch gets the meat hand into the glove as quickly as possible.
- Be sure that you finish with the chest over the front foot.
- With the baseball stopped at the fence, step over the ball – crow and throw.
- On the glove side while running hard to cut the ball off – you step over and throwback.
Bernie Walter has been the head coach at Arundel High School in Gambrels, Maryland, since 1974. In his remarkable career, Walter has compiled a 543-160 record at Arundel and won a record-setting nine
Maryland state baseball championships. His 2005 team won their 14th regional title. Walter was named National Coach of the Year in 1993 by the National High School Baseball Coaches Association and in 1998 by the American Baseball Coaches Association. He was inducted into the Maryland State Association of Baseball Coaches Hall of Fame in 1996
Walter is the only baseball coach to have been recognized by Disney’s American Teacher Awards and he’s the educational consultant for MLB Productions’ “This Week in Baseball.”
Walter was also the head coach for the USA Baseball junior national team in 1988 and 1990 and has coached 55 Major Leaguers, including Denny Neagle, Mike Mussina, and John Smoltz.